City of Tulsa worker injured in gas line fire talks exclusively to FOX23

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Reported by: Price McKeon
Updated: 10/19/2013 11:58 pm Published: 10/19/2013 11:47 pm

The City of Tulsa worker severely burned by a gas line fire in August spoke exclusively to FOX23 Saturday.

Robert Bower was repairing a water line when a worker using a backhoe hit a reported unmarked gas line. That sparked a fire that burnt more than 20 percent of Bower’s body.

Robert Bower was at a fundraiser at the Tulsa Event Center in East Tulsa Saturday evening. He said it was the first time he saw many of his co-workers since the accident in August.

Bower described to FOX23’s Price McKeon the day he saw flames shoot at him.

He said, "All I could do was scream. I didn't know what was going on. I was just screaming at them to turn it off to stop the fire."

Video from the day in August show flames shooting into the sky.

He said, "I already accepted I wasn't going to make it out of it, and I just stood up to get out and tried to get out. But I couldn't cause the wall was too high."

He said three of his co-workers ran over straight into the flames, “Grabbed me and pulled me out and they saved my life.”

Bower wears special sleeves to protect his skin grafts. He showed McKeon photos of his injuries but they were too graphic to show on air.

He said, “Physically, I’m healing quite well.”

He told FOX23 he is scheduled to go back to work on a limited basis starting Nov. 1.

“I don't plan on going back to the position I was in simply from the emotional standpoint of it,” Bower continued.

Saturday’s fundraiser was another step in the healing process.

He said, “You know it’s pretty tough to deal with when you're in a situation you think you're going to die and you've accepted it because you think you're going to.”

FOX23 was there when he saw many co-workers for the first time since the accident.

Bower said that was something he needed to do, “Just get back into contact with them because they're kind of like family.”

The father of two special needs children took photos of his boys dancing at the fundraiser.

Bower is still smiling even after seeing his life flash in front of him just months ago.

FOX23 learned about 500 people were at Saturday’s event. The event raised more than $5,000 for Bower and his family.

The men that pulled him to safety were awarded medals for their bravery at Saturday’s event.
Donations can be made to any Bank of Oklahoma Branch, Robert K Bower Benefit Fund, Account Number: 310892444.

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